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Hall of Fame

50

Kakai Kilonzo

Mary Aisha Khabere is one of the thespians who pioneered the acting industry in Kenya. She is popularly known as Mama Kayai and acted in the popular comical family show, Vitimbi which was aired on Voice of Kenya (VOK), currently Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). She also featured in another popular drama, Vioja Mahakamani.

She has been in the industry for more than thirty years. She has continuously shown professionalism and prowess in acting in all her shows. Her popularity increased as she acted alongside the Late Mzee Ojwang as his wife. They had crucial roles that educated and entertained Kenyans on social and marital issues both on television and during national holidays. Mama Kayai has portrayed resilience despite the challenges in the creative industry and hence has been an inspiration to many young artists. She has received various prestigious awards. In 2018, she was inducted into the Riverwood Awards Hall of Fame by receiving the Grand Warrior award. We acknowledge her valuable efforts in pioneering and enhancing the theatre industry

14

Kakai Kilonzo

Kakai Kilonzo was born in Kilimambogo, Machakos district in 1954. He led the Kilimambogo Brothers band and mostly sang in Kamba.

His first recording with this band was in 1975 when he released the song ‘Mama Kifagio.’ He began to engage a wider audience by singing in Kiswahili and rose to fame nationally. Kakai is among the few benga artists that have attracted national recognition. He portrayed patriotism by releasing his first national song “Fuata Nyayo” for His Excellency the late president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. It was then followed by a popular patriotic song “Kenya Nchi Yangu.” a song which encourages Kenyans to be patriotic and has been continuously played from generation to generation. He got ill and died in 1987. We celebrate Kakai for using his talent to bring a peaceful endeavor to the country. May he continue resting in eternal peace.
Link to song; (click on image) or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQfQSJWpTmc ,
#thelategreat #twendetheatre #inspiringculturalconnections

25

Jacob Otieno

Jacob Otieno was and is still known for his passion for enhancing the state of Kenyan theatre. He studied electric engineering at the Kenya...

Kenya polytechnic and worked at the Ministry of Public works. His love for art prompted him to join theatre as an adult. He made a mark in the theatre scene through Friends Theatre Limited where he mentored, inspired, and trained many Theatre artists in Kenya. He was generous with knowledge and brought valuable wisdom to the industry. He was persistent despite the challenges he faced in the creative industry. He pioneered one-man plays in Kenya such as one on former American football player O.J Simpson.

Notably, he worked as a volunteer in the technical department of the Kenya Cultural Centre incorporating Kenya National Theatre and was very instrumental in the role. Sir Jacob Otieno passed away in 2021 after an illness. We celebrate Sir Jacob Otieno as one of Kenyas’ veteran actor and director. May he continue resting in eternal peace.

21

Mzee Ojwang

Benson Wanjau was popularly known as Mzee Ojwang’ Hatari was born and raised in Mukuruweini, Central, Kenya, Nyeri County in 1937.

Wanjau first appeared on television screens in the Darubini program that was aired by Voice of Kenya (VOK) which was later renamed Kenya Broadcasting Commission (KBC).

Years later he joined the cast of the Vitimbi program, which was still being aired by VOK. He became more famous and a household name through his role in Vitimbi in which his manner of speech and appearance were those of typical Luo such that many viewers thought he was Luo in real life although he confessed that he had never spoken Dholuo.
Through the role, he revealed that it was not hard to understand and tolerate other people, especially in a country facing significant levels of ethnicity. His acting would also address social issues such as drunkenness and gender based violence. Wanjau can be described as an actor who educated, informed and entertained Kenyans with unparalleled dexterity. He taught without sounding preachy, informed without boring anyone, and entertained without becoming trivial. Wanjau succumbed to an illness in 2015. May he continue resting in peace.